Review: The Chemical Garden Trilogy – Lauren DeStefano

I N F O R M A T I O N 

Title: The Chemical Garden Series (Wither/Fever/Sever)

Author: Lauren DeStefano

My Rating:

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S U M M A R Y 

The Chemical Garden trilogy tells the story of a girl named Rhine – she lives in a world where a virus prevents any man living past 25, and any woman from living past 20. Humans are striving to find a cure to the virus, whilst rich aristocratic men purchase wives from Gatherers that steal girls from their homes and streets. Rhine finds herself taken by a Gatherer, rushed into a van of horror and then married off to Linden. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of Rhine’s traumatic and difficult life.

R E V I E W 

I loved the idea behind these books; the virus and how it has changed humanity so quickly, and how society has changed to fit with this new terror. I was plunged straight into the story, which was at first unsettling, since Rhine’s world is very different (and yet strikingly similar) to our own. Soon, though, I felt the story growing into a regular pace. Each book seems to tackle one ‘main’ controversial problem – the first book, Wither, primarily focuses on forced marriage and what this means for women; the second book, Fever, has a large section that takes place in a sex house; whilst the last book, Sever, seems to revolve around science, and whether its accomplishments are worth all of the prices.

Now, I have a interesting story to tell about the time I was reading the first book. When I first picked it up from the library, I was with my boyfriend, Alex, and he asked what it was about. I explained about the virus and how women were now being forced into marriage with procreation being the main thing on the agenda. ‘That’s a bit sexist.’ he said, and at first I didn’t know how to reply. ‘How?’ I asked, curious on his viewpoint.

‘It assumes that in any moment of weakness society will crumble and suddenly men will overrule women.’

And I realised something – take away the virus element of the story, and what you could have is an autobiography of a girl actually living in our world (I did explain this to him, but he just dropped the subject so I think I won). For this reason, I think the book is brilliant. There are any other wonderful elements to it – but the fact Lauren DeStefano can take something that actually happens and make it seem so alien and unreal takes some skill.

Now, for the more bookish comments:

I largely preferred the first two books. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because The Big Thing that happens in Sever (no spoiler, if you’ve read it, you know what it is, if you haven’t, you know it’s coming) didn’t really seem to stun or affect me that much. But then, I’ve never cried at anything written by John Green so I may just be a heartless robot (Yes, I’ve read TFioS).

There was some wonderful prose in the novels – really dreamy and vivid description that made my imagination cry with joy. I LOVE a good book with plenty of room for imagination. All in all, I thought the trilogy was a fast pace, very good read.

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